Excellent racing conditions have diminished overnight and winds are down to just 5 knots this morning. As the anticipated low pressure system draws ever closer to the Clipper Race fleet, skippers are now waiting and hoping that they have positioned themselves correctly to capitalise on it.
Simon Rowell, the Clipper Race meteorologist, said the 925 hPa winds are showing between 50 and 60 knots, he expects to see gusts in the 60s, and up to the 70s depending on where the teams are.
Eric Holden, skipper of Henri Lloyd explained the condition change: “The sun was out in full force this morning, however the cloud has been steadily thickening and it has recently begun to rain. Change is most definitely on the way.”
Following completion of Invest Africa and GREAT Britain’s Stealth Mode periods, it is clear that almost all the fleet has headed south. These teams are aiming to avoid the worst of both a giant wind hole and the strongest winds of the impending, northerly front, whilst hoping to hold on to the potentially fairer but more steady winds that are expected to pay first dividends.
Derry~Londonderry~Doire and OneDLL both made late, opposing course changes early this morning. Sean McCarter, skipper of first placed Derry~Londonderry~Doire explained his move: “We are currently making a last minute dive south to try and avoid or minimise time spent in the worst area and head winds of the approaching low pressure system.”
Commented on his late northerly move, Olly Cotterell, skipper of OneDLL said: “I think that the boats further south are going to get better winds and sooner, so our position in the fleet is set to fall, however in the coming days being further north may once again pay dividends.”
Mission Performance, now in third place, remains the most northerly positioned yacht in the fleet. Skipper Matt Mitchell explained his tactics: “It is our turn for a wind hole this afternoon, however I am hopeful that it won't last too long, and our position with regards to the low pressure system is looking pretty good, meaning that for a time at least, we will be far enough above it to avoid the worst of the headwinds and by the time it moves up over us, the wind should have backed enough so that it sits just aft of the beam.
“I am sure we will lose a bit of ground to the rest of the fleet once they are free of the wind but hopefully we have managed to minimise the damage. I anticipate that we will still be able to point at our waypoint even when the wind is on the nose, as opposed to beating towards our destination.”
Qingdao’s Stealth Mode will end at 12:00 UTC while OneDLL will enter a 48 hour Stealth Mode period at 18:00 UTC tonight. All boats are entitled to two 24 hour Stealth Mode periods in Race 10 and can choose whether to use these separately or together.
Which teams tactics will reap most rewards? How strong will this low front affect the Clipper Race fleet? Who will reach the Scoring Gate first? What else does Mother Nature have in store for the remaining 3,000 miles to San Francisco? Stay glued to the Race Viewer and read tomorrow’s skipper reports to see how this Pacific Ocean saga unfolds.
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To read the crew diaries, click HERE